Siria's Reviews > Beautiful Maria of My Soul

Beautiful Maria of My Soul by Oscar Hijuelos
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's review
Aug 15, 2010

did not like it
bookshelves: 21st-century, american-fiction, by-poc, historical-fiction
Read from August 15 to 28, 2010

God, this was dreadful. The only way this book could have been more a straight male fantasy is if it had been narrated by a penis—and believe me, there enough descriptions of improbably huge penises in Beautiful María of my Soul that such a narrative device wouldn't have been an enormous stretch. The protagonist, María, is a man's bland idea of a beautiful woman; I never believed in her as a real person. Her great love affair with Nestor seems to be based mostly on the fact that they're both good looking and he has an enormous penis—and this sexist pap carries on for 300 pages.

The prose is also pretty terrible. Hijuelos seems to think that peppering his prose with italicised words in Spanish every other sentence is a good alternative to actually creating atmosphere and texture. Some words are not translatable into English, true, but Hijuelos delights in things like having his characters say "Muy bien. Very good," when they are ostensibly speaking Spanish all the time.

The final straw was the ending, in which the author inserts himself as a character (polite and modest and self-effacing!) who helps to tie up the last few strands of the narrative. It read as obnoxious. Really, really not recommended.
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Reading Progress

08/15/2010 page 1
09/13/2016 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Jana (new)

Jana Thanks for the great review. This sounds exactly like the kind of book I would hate. Thanks for saving me from wasting my time with it.

Tara Chevrestt I liked this book more than you did but I love your review. You are wonderfully honest and yet funny as you voice your opinion. I had to read your review aloud to my husband. LOL I hope my vote sticks. GR is acting up.

Pete Dematteo I liked the book even though I'm not sure that I felt empathy for Maria. Anyhow, comparing the head of Nestor's penis as a 'bell' was just too much. This is not a good portrayal of Cuban men in general and it furthers a stereotype of sorts. good objections!

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